This review was originally written for The Public Reviews
Following its recent New York premiere run at the historic Theatre 80, Broadway Records has released the a new Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording of Liberty: A Monumental New Musical.
Liberty: A Monumental New Musical tells the story of a determined, young French immigrant who arrives alone in New York Harbour in 1884. Adapted from original material by Dana Leslie Goldstein, Jon Goldstein and Robert Bruce McIntosh, the musical follows Liberty as struggles to find her place in the ever-evolving country she’s come to symbolise.
Available in CD format or as a digital download, Liberty: A Monumental New Musical (Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording) features 12 tracks from the musical. Jon Goldstein’s contemporary score boasts a mix of musical genres from soaring ballads to an upbeat tango. Dana Leslie Goldstein’s catchy lyrics are well written but at times, overpower the music resulting in some of the songs feeling a little disjointed.
What pulls Liberty: A Monumental New Musical through is the strong vocal performance from the talented cast. 14-year-old Abigail Shapiro (How the Grinch Stole Christmas) stars in the title role as Liberty, her lovely young voice soaring through numbers like Horizon and Possible.
Ben McHugh (Mamma Mia!) puts in an excellent performance as Francis Walker, his powerful and deep voice transforming tracks likes The Other Half, America for the Americans and Charity Tango. Emma Rosenthal’s performance as upper-class poet Emma Lazurus is also worth a mention, particularly her solo Gift for Words? which sounds operatic at times.
The best tracks on the album are Possible, a duet with Shapiro and Tom Souhrada as Joseph Pulitzer; and We Had It Worse, a comical number in which two immigrants compete with each other over which of them has had the harder time.
Liberty’s journey to Off-Broadway was 6 years in the making and the creative team and cast have clearly worked hard on the production. All in all, Liberty: A Monumental New Musical (Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording) is a beautiful and timely score that captures the essence of this true and inspiring New York story.
Liberty: A Monumental New Musical (Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording) is available through Broadway Records
Reviewer: Donna Kelly